Senator Markey announces legislation to halt the global nuclear arms race

PNND Co-President Senator Markey introduces the Hastening Arms Limitation Talks (HALT) Act in the US Congress. Congressman Jim McGovern introduces the HALT Act into the US House of Representatives.

PNND Co-President Senator Ed Markey yesterday (May 4, 2023) announced reintroduction into the US Senate of the Hastening Arms Limitation Talks (HALT) Act, legislation that would establish a 21st century freeze on the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons. The Act was also introduced into the US House of Representatives yesterday by Congressman Jim McGovern.

The HALT Act stipulates that the aims of U.S. policy should include:

  1. An agreement on a verifiable freeze on the testing, production, and further deployment of all nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles for such weapons;
  2. A resumption of on-site inspections and verification measures per the New START Treaty;
  3. A bilateral U.S. agreement with the Russian Federation on a treaty or agreement that covers non-strategic nuclear weapons or strategic systems not covered by the New START Treaty;
  4. Negotiations of a verifiable Fissile Material Treaty or Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty in the United Nations (UN) Conference on Disarmament or another international forum;
  5. Series of U.S. disarmament summits to reduce stocks of weapons-usable nuclear material;
  6. U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and mobilization of all countries covered by Annex 2 of the CTBT to pursue similar action necessary for entry-into-force of the treaty;
  7. Other engagements with all other countries that possess nuclear weapons to negotiate and conclude future multilateral arms control, disarmament, and risk reduction agreements; and
  8. Prohibition of funds to prepare for or to conduct U.S. explosive nuclear-weapon testing.

The threat of nuclear war looms larger today than it has since the Cold War. It is more pressing during times of war than in times of peace to ensure that disarmament talks do not falter. I am calling on the President and the Pentagon to lead where they would have Putin follow, starting with a total freeze on the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons.Senator Ed Markey

Anniversary of the 1 million person Nuclear Freeze demonstration

The HALT Act comes 41 years after one million people gathered in New York’s Central Park to promote a nuclear weapons freeze—the largest peace demonstration in U.S. history. Then-Representative Markey addressed the crowd on June 12, 1982, demanding an end to President Ronald Reagan’s unnecessary spending on new nuclear weapons systems and calling for the President to begin negotiations on nuclear arms reduction with the Soviet Union. Experts credit the freeze movement with creating the political will necessary for the negotiation of bilateral arms control treaties between the United States and former Soviet Union, later Russia.  

The world continues to move in the wrong direction on nuclear disarmament and arms control. To avert disaster, the United States must urgently lead a multilateral freeze on nuclear weapons testing, production, and deployment. Every penny spent on nuclear weapons serves no purpose but to strengthen the hand of evil in the world and bring humanity one stop closer to extinction. We need a 21st century nuclear freeze movement so we can hit the brakes on this dangerous escalation, honor our existing treaty obligations, spend our time and money improving our country and world, and eliminate nuclear weapons before they eliminate us.Congressman Jim McGovern. 

Complementary measures

The HALT Act complements other nuclear risk-reduction and disarmament measures introduced in April by Senator Markey including the Block Nuclear Launch by Autonomous Artificial Intelligence Act and the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act. In addition, last October, Senator Markey filed eight amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to reduce the risk of ‘nuclear Armageddon’ and stop the proliferation of nuclear weapon amid fear of Russian nuclear recklessness.

NGO support

The act is supported by a number of United States and international non-governmental organizations including the Arms Control Association, Council for a Livable World, Ploughshares Fund, NoFirstUse Global, the American Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, and Massachusetts Peace Action.

“With nuclear risks growing almost every day in Ukraine and a dangerous new arms race with Russia and China brewing, it is more important than ever that the United States works to reduce global nuclear arsenals rather than increase them. Senator Markey reminds us that arms control diplomacy, such as the New START treaty, is the only proven to way address these dangers. The only way to win an arms race is not to run. We thank Senator Markey for his leadership at this crucial time.”Dr. Emma Belcher, President of Ploughshares Fund.

“The HALT Act is an important move to ensure that bilateral nuclear arms control does not disappear. By calling for a United States freeze on testing, production and further deployment of nuclear weapons, the Act leads by example and provides a possibility to engage with Russia. And the call for no-first-use helps to prevent nuclear war from occurring through crisis escalation, mis-calculation or accident.” John Hallam, Steering Committee Member of NoFirstUse Global

“Conflicts between USA and other nuclear-armed States – including Russia, China and North Korea – threaten to spill over into nuclear war unless leadership is taken to halt the nuclear arms race, end provocative policies such as the threat of first-use of nuclear weapons, and resume arms control and disarmament negotiations. The HALT Act makes sound, feasible proposals which if enacted will enhance the security of all.” Alyn Ware, PNND Global Coordinator